UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry on Monday unveiled a series of financial reforms in a further attempt to clean up an organization rocked by a years-long corruption scandal and stave off potential government oversight.
The union said it would hire four additional auditors, continue an internal financial-controls audit started earlier this year by Deloitte, retain a new external accounting firm and expand financial training for certain union personnel. In addition, the union said it plans to implement more centralized oversight of financial operations and will “aggressively utilize” a bonding certificate system to recover 100 percent of any misappropriated funds.
“The UAW is committed to putting in place checks and balances and accounting reforms that prevent financial malfeasance,” Curry said in a statement. “This top-to-bottom assessment of our financial and accounting procedures and policies will result in a stronger and more stringent financial oversight of all expenditures and financial transactions. With the support of our entire International Executive Board, we will keep the membership and staff updated on our progress and changes.”
The changes come in the wake of an expanding federal probe that has targeted former UAW officials for misusing member dues and funds earmarked for training centers.
“Dues dollars are sacred,” acting President Rory Gamble said in a statement. “Secretary-Treasurer Curry and I, along with the entire International Executive Board, are committed to establishing stringent financial controls and new procedures to address and fix any weaknesses in the system. The UAW will hand over to our membership in 2022 a financially safeguarded union.”
So far, federal prosecutors have brought charges against 13 people and 10 have pleaded guilty. Former President Gary Jones resigned his presidency and union membership last month after the union announced it would charge him and Pearson, a former Region 5 director who also resigned, under Article 30 of the union’s constitution. Jones had previously taken a leave of absence, which prompted Gamble’s promotion to acting president. Jones has not been criminally charged.
The changes announced Monday mark the second set of reforms Gamble has instituted in less than a month. In mid-November, he said the union would hire an ethics officer and ethics ombudsman and add more stringent monetary controls, including a ban on all charitable contributions from UAW joint program centers, vendors or employers to any charities run or controlled by UAW officials. In addition, he said the union will discontinue buying promotional items using joint program funds and will sell “Cabin Four” and land around the building at its Black Lake center in northern Michigan.
Gamble, 64, has made clear that he believes the UAW can reform itself from within. He said he’s worried about the possibility of a government takeover if prosecutors decide to charge the union with racketeering.
“We need to do more than what we’ve done in the past,” he said in an interview shortly after he became acting president. “We need to do more in bringing the integrity back to this union and regaining our members’ trust. This organization is too important for too many people to fail. I do not intend to see that happen in my lifetime.”
The union’s International Executive Board is expected to name a permanent president later this week. It’s the first time a president has been replaced mid-term since 1970, when Walter Reuther died in a plane crash.
Gamble has said he’d be open to accepting the position but age restrictions would limit him to only finishing out the current term, which would end in 2022.